How to Choose a Surgeon & Practice
The decision to undergo weight loss surgery is significant and may take several years for a person to reach. Once you have decided to proceed with surgery, it is important to find a surgeon and practice that you are both confident in and comfortable with.
This can be a very extensive and overwhelming process. We have developed this guide to enable you to feel confident in your decision. It outlines the most important aspects to consider during your search for a surgeon and practice.
Choosing a Weight Loss Surgeon
Surgeons who perform weight loss surgery are called Bariatric Surgeons. It is very important to feel comfortable with your surgeon so that you are freely able to ask them your questions and discuss your health. Ideally, you will be seeing your surgeon for life-long follow-up so it is essential you choose a surgeon who you are confident can support you throughout your entire weight loss journey.
Important questions for surgeons:
- Where did they complete their medical and surgical training?
- How many weight loss surgery patients have they looked after?
- Which public hospitals are they appointed at? Is this a reputable health service?
- Do they conduct research or participate in teaching? These are signs that the surgeon is up-to-date on the latest techniques and safety measures.
- Which procedures do they perform? Some surgeons may only offer the gastric band or sleeve gastrectomy and not the bypass, so therefore you may not be offered the most appropriate procedure for you due to the surgeon’s limited scope of practice.
- Does the surgeon offer revision surgery? There is always a risk of intolerance or weight regain and revision surgery may be necessary. If you have to be referred to another surgeon, there may be more fees and heightened surgical risks. Continuity of care is very important.
- What is the cost? Does their package include post-surgery follow-up and for how long? What is the additional cost should revision surgery be necessary?
Choosing a practice:
A multi-disciplinary clinic is the best environment to support you holistically during your weight loss journey. These practices employ a broad range of health professionals to ensure all aspects of your health are supported. The surgery alters your anatomy but your commitment to change psychological behaviours, habits and lifestyle is essential if you are to achieve long term success. Dietitians, psychologists, exercise physiologists and practice nurses are all critical members of the team, who work together to treat obesity as a multifactorial problem.
Ideally, you should try to find a practice that provides these services in one location. This not only makes it convenient and easy for you to maintain your regular follow-up, but it allows for good communication between healthcare professionals.
A practice that employs multiple healthcare professionals within each discipline will allow you to meet with different surgeons or dietitians so that you find the best fit for you. Do not be afraid to get a second opinion! Any great practice will welcome it.
Lastly, you want to find a practice that encourages long-term, and ideally life-long follow-up. The surgery is a tool that you will be working with for the rest of your life, so it is important to have that continual support. Bumps in the road are expected as changing lifestyles and habits is no easy feat, but a great team will be there every step of the way!
- Ask as many questions as possible! No question is silly!
- Ask to be put in contact with a patient who has previously undergone surgery with that practice so they can share their experiences with you.
- Do not be afraid to get a second opinion.
- Trust your gut! Make sure you truly feel comfortable with the people who will be supporting you through your journey! Every person is different – make sure you feel your team understands that… and understands YOU!